The Music for All Blog
The Music for All Blog



It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday evening of the Music for All Summer Symposium! Tonight, I had the opportunity to listen to the jazz students’ dress rehearsal with the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra in Emens Auditorium, prior to their performance this evening.

BWJO 1I was very impressed with the sheer enthusiasm of the ensemble. The combination of the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra and all the jazz track students on stage was definitely impressive as well – they spanned almost the entire length of the stage, creating quite an impressive sound.

As I watched Mark Buselli rehearse the ensemble, he had so much energy and enthusiasm that the students couldn’t help but be enthusiastic as well. View this video of the dress rehearsal to learn more.

BWJO 2After the jazz dress rehearsal, I was excited to discover I had enough time to run across the street to the Music Instruction Building to catch the last half of the orchestra students’ Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal with Time for Three’s Nick Kendall.

The groundbreaking, category-shattering trio Time for Three transcends traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own. The members -- Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass -- carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing. Tf3 sets itself apart not only with its varied repertoire performed with astonishing technical acuity, but also through its approach. Its high-energy performances are free of conventional practices, drawing instead from the members’ differing musical backgrounds. The trio also performs its own arrangements of traditional repertoire and Ranaan Meyer provides original compositions to complement the trio’s offerings.

The trio also passes along strong, positive messages to young people. Their video, Stronger, relays the following message: “Be stronger, achieve your dreams, fight against bullies or WHATEVER strong force is against you.” You can view this video here.

As Kendall worked with the orchestra students on a piece called Hymn, he instructed students to play with feeling and really try to get into it.

“You guys can really just move with the music,” Kendall said. “If musicians look like [they’re thinking] ‘why am I here,’ it’s a waste of the audience’s time…believe in the moment and enjoy the harmonies.”

The results were immediate, and I watched students incorporate movement and really get into the emotional nature of the music, which was very lyrical and expressive. View a video from rehearsal here.

Nick Kendall 3As the students rehearsed the next piece, Orange Blossom Special, Kendall instructed the students to put as much enthusiasm and energy into the piece as they possibly could in order to truly get as much out of the musical experience as possible. I watched the students giving it their all, even so late in the day at almost 7:30 p.m. It was inspiring to see them working so hard to achieve a musical goal.

As rehearsal came to a close, I chatted for a second with Clarice, a student from Indiana. I asked her what it was like working with Nick Kendall.

“It was different,” she said. “A lot of new things – we learned some improv, and it was fun!”

Right now, students are enjoying the Buselli Wallarab Jazz Orchestra/Midcoast Swing Orchestra concert at Emens Auditorium, and the jazz students will be performing on stage for a couple pieces that are part of this concert. And, orchestra students have a special immersion performance on stage with Time for Three tomorrow, June 28, at 8 p.m. at Emens Auditorium.

These special immersion performances give students an opportunity to learn and absorb important musical lessons that I feel also translate to significant life lessons.

I found this text on Time for Three’s website, as part of the description for their video I described above, and I think the philosophy and thought behind it make perfect sense:

“We are Time for Three and this is our story -- the story of so many kids who every day face challenges to who they are and who they want to be: their dreams, their ambitions, their identity. This video is for you guys. Be strong. Stick with it. We did, and we are stronger for it.”



CG for blog 2Visit the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Day two of the full week MFA Summer Symposium is coming to a close, and we’ve had a great start to camp! Today in the afternoon, I was able to take a break from my responsibilities in our staff headquarters to head out and watch some sessions.

First, I walked over to the quad to observe color guard students in their Equipment Technique and Repertoire teams. Students were rehearsing in small groups for their final performance on Saturday. I walked across the quad and stopped to watch several groups, including two groups tossing flags and another learning a dance routine. One group was working with flags and practicing a lyrical section of their routine, which was quite beautiful to watch.

CG photo for blog 3I stopped to chat with two students during one of their water breaks. I asked Whitney, a student from Kansas, if she was enjoying her experience at Summer Symposium. She said yes, and I asked what she enjoyed the most. “Everything! It’s just all fun,” Whitney said.  

I also chatted with Edyn, a second-year camper from Ohio. I asked if she could give me some details about what they were working on. “It’s a dance and routine for our show-and-tell performance on Saturday,” she said.

“It’s nice to see [and meet] these people,” Edyn said. “Since I live quite a long way away from most.”

Edyn lives in Ohio, and she said she has made friends with several students who live in Michigan.

CG for blog 1I observed for a couple more minutes as one of the small flag groups performed a full sequence from their routine to music. Then I decided to visit the Directors’ Academy for a little while.

I walked over to sit in on a session with Mark Buselli, Jazz Band Division Coordinator and Director of Jazz Studies at Ball State University. I made it in time for the second half of his session, and he was deep in conversation with the attendees. This session was smaller and more intimate, which allowed directors the chance to truly have in-depth conversations about their individual situations.

The session was called “Preparing Your Band for a Jazz Festival,” and Buselli chatted with the directors present to give advice and answer questions about how to improve their respective jazz programs.

One high school director participant was discussing how she has volunteered to work with a middle school jazz program. It has definitely added a lot to her plate, but it was clear from the conversation that it’s important to her that the program not only stays alive, but also thrives.

“At first when you said you volunteered, I thought, ‘oh, this poor girl,’” Buselli said. “But, then I thought – that’s your feeder school, that’s brilliant! I think you’re very smart and on the right track.”

Buselli was very encouraging and helpful as he discussed the unique situations each of these teachers faces in their day-to-day work. He also talked about why teaching can be so satisfying, and it was inspiring to see the excitement in his face, and hear it in his voice, as he discussed this.

Markblack“As a teacher, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t care what level I teach, I teach to see the process,” Buselli said. “Young students – you can see so much progress over a short amount of time.”

Buselli also talked about the concept of active listening versus passive listening. He discussed an exercise teachers can use in the classroom. Buselli said to take five minutes of focused time and ask, “What is the bass player doing? How is the horn interacting with the piano player?” This is a way to focus on active listening and help students see that there’s more going on than just background music.

I took a moment at the end of the session to thank Mr. Buselli, and he also passed along a handout with some words I enjoyed reading. I left with these words in hand and contemplated them for a while today so it seems appropriate to leave them with you as well:

The Sweetness of Music

“As we approach a new century and a changing international economic climate, we think that scientific and technological education should be our highest priority. And yet these fields, at least the way they are practiced today, only tangentially affect the heart and soul, where morality and values are rooted, while music goes right to the heart.

Studying music, one learns about talent, thought, work, expression, beauty, technique, collaboration, aesthetic judgment, inspiration, taste, and a host of other elements that shape life in all its aspects. As we learn to control our fingers, lips, and breath in making music, subliminally, music is shaping us, making us people of sensitivity and judgment.”

-From Thomas Moore’s 1996 book: The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life



registration photoIt’s been a busy day at the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium! I had hoped to blog a bit earlier today, but with registration and our Opening Session for camp participants, today kept not only our campers but also our staff busy as well.

Today was the first full day of Symposium, and I started my day at registration. As I walked to the registration room at Park Hall around 7:30 this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that a line of students was already winding around the corridor, ready to get started with their day. When the registration doors opened, students were greeted with a wall of applause from the SWAG Team. SWAGs gave students a warm welcome and helped them get registered for the week.

After hanging out in the registration room for a bit, I decided to walk to the front of Park Hall where the MFA info table was located today. I was surprised to see Leadership Weekend Experience students lined up and welcoming the full week campers with applause, high fives and handshakes. It was truly wonderful to see how welcoming the students were, and it shows the leadership lessons they learned this past weekend.

yypa jazzBefore I knew it, it was time for the Opening Session. Students heard performances from Yamaha Young Performing Artists Jazz Winners to start things off. Kevin Sun, Jazz Tenor Saxophone; Josh Shpak, Jazz Trumpet; and Chase Morrin, Jazz Piano performed at the beginning of Opening Session.

After this fantastic performance, students were introduced to Norm Ruebling (Camp Director), Jamie Weaver (Camp Director of the SWAG Team), David Starnes (Educational Consultant for Music for All and Camp Director), Gary Markham (Senior Educational Consultant for Music for All and Camp Director), William Galvin (Music for All Educational Consultant), Dean Westman (Orchestra Division Coordinator), Stan Schoonover (Music for All Educational Consultant), Bob Buckner (Director of the 2013 BOA Honor Band in the Tournament of Roses® Parade), Fran Kick (Leadership Division Coordinator), Dr. Tom Caneva (Concert Band Division Coordinator), the Camp Medical Team, and Eric Martin (President and CEO of Music for All). The SWAG Team also contributed some helpful tips about staying energized, hydrated, well-rested and sunscreened up for the week!

color guardAfter the Opening Session, students began their classes. Admittedly, I had to assist with some tasks in our headquarters and around campus this afternoon so I didn’t get to attend any full sessions. However, as I walked around campus today, it was wonderful to see activity around every corner as students attended their sessions. I look forward to attending sessions this week so I can fill you in on what students are learning.

After classes tonight, students attended the Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) concert. The Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program (YYPA) recognizes outstanding young musicians from the world of classical, jazz and contemporary music. Winners of this competition were invited to attend an all-expense-paid weekend awards ceremony at the Summer Symposium, receive a once in a lifetime performance opportunity in front of thousands, national press coverage, receive a recording and photos of the live performance, and participate in workshops designed to launch a professional music career. Winners also enjoy many of the privileges of a Yamaha artist, including services and communication with Yamaha's Artist Relations department. Finalist performances and a selection of one winner occurred at this evening's concert.

I’m eager to see what else this week has in store and attend some sessions tomorrow. Summer Symposium is off to a great start!


Visit the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

View more photos from Taylor University Escape to Reality Challenge Course.

Hello! My name is Lauren Williams, and I am the Marketing Intern for Music for All. I just returned from the Leadership Weekend Experience at Taylor University "Escape to Reality" challenge course, and I am guest blogging about the students’ time there and the valuable lessons they learned.

Zip line webThe first activity I could see as I approached the Leadership site was the zip line. Students put on harnesses, and they were challenged to climb to the top platform using metal rungs on a structure resembling a telephone pole. This is not an easy feat as it requires concentration, determination and bravery to reach the top platform. Once there, the students took a thrilling ride down to the end of the clearing. Those who accepted the challenge of climbing to the top learned to step out of their comfort zones and face their fears.

Close by, other students were taking the ropes course challenge. Harnessed and hoisted to the top of the course, students tested their balance and coordination by walking the tight rope and even leaping for a trapeze – 25 to 30 feet above the ground! I was amazed at their bravery, and when they were lowered back down; they couldn’t stop grinning from the excitement.

Next, the students met with Tom Pompei, Natural Horsemanship professional, and his trusty steed Spark.

Spark with kids webPompei related the skittish nature of horses to new members on a team. In a new environment, people become intimidated and may shy away from new experiences. To be a good leader, one must show the newcomers that they are welcome and cared for, and soon they will become comfortable and trusting, just like a horse. A good leader also needs to pay attention and cater to different personalities (like extroverts and introverts) to achieve effective leadership. Finally, a good leader will use positive and encouraging language to guide their team to success. These three L’s—love, language, and leadership—are the keys to working well with a team.

Water bottle act 2 webPompei’s next activity involved splitting everyone up into pairs and using empty water bottles to make their partner perform a certain action. One person got a piece of paper saying what the action was (like jumping jacks or a salute) and had to make the other perform it by tapping them with the bottle. For instance, the instructor would tap their partner’s hand and then their forehead to make them do a salute. The only rule was that they couldn’t talk to each other. Some students were able to get it right away, but others had a harder time. The lesson was that leadership isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about learning how to adapt and guide them to success in a way they can relate to and understand. Everyone communicates differently, and leadership takes patience and careful attention, even if it gets frustrating.

Ropes webAfter lunch, I tagged along with a group of students through the woods to another rope challenge. The group stood on one side of a small, circular clearing and used a swinging rope to reach one of the three wooden platforms on the other side. They had to go one by one until everyone was on one of the three platforms. As people crossed over, space on the platforms became tight. The only rule was that if someone’s feet touched the ground, they had to completely start over. It took a few tries, but they were able to complete the challenge by holding on tight and making sure nobody fell off until the last person was over.  This activity taught them that when working on a team, the success of every individual is critical to the success of the team as a whole. Every person needs to support his or her teammates in any way possible to achieve the team’s goal. It was so refreshing to hear the sincere words of encouragement they shared with each other as each student prepared to swing to the platforms.

Even though I was just observing and taking photos, the positive energy of the Taylor University Leadership Weekend Experience was so strong that I couldn’t help but feel like a part of it myself. The students learned extremely valuable lessons about teamwork and leadership that will not only aid them in their musical endeavors, but also with their education, friendships, and future career choices.


Opening SessionVisit the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium online coverage page for more information and camp highlights throughout the week.

Welcome to the 2012 Music for All Summer Symposium! My name is Kristin Conrad, and I’m the Senior Marketing Coordinator at Music for All. I will be blogging throughout the week to keep you informed about the activities students will be participating in at Summer Symposium. Unfortunately, I won't be able to be in two places at once, although I wish I could since I would enjoy seeing everything happening at camp. But, I'll do my best to keep you in the loop throughout the week and help provide an insider’s look at the Symposium experience. You'll also see posts from other MFA staff members this week as they attend sessions and experience camp.

If you followed the Summer Symposium blog last year, you may remember that last year was my third year at camp as an MFA staff member. This is my fourth camp, and it’s so nice to be back on campus at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. This is the second year Summer Symposium has been held on the campus of Ball State University.

The MFA staff moved into our headquarters this past Wednesday, and we've been hard at work setting up and prepping for the week. The SWAG Team is also on site, working hard already to help make sure your children have a great experience. The SWAG Team plays a major role in the Summer Symposium, serving as counselors, staff assistants and role models to the 1,000+ student participants.

Even though I’ve been to camp before, I’m still always amazed that this is an all-volunteer group! Dedicated band directors, college students, graduate students, directors and others interested in music education volunteer their time – over a week out of their busy lives – to provide a positively life-changing experience for each and every student participant. But, it extends even beyond this. Every time I have encountered a SWAG this week, he or she has either offered to help me with something I was working on, asked how my day is going, or simply smiled and told me they’re here if I need anything. It’s that compassion, dedication, responsive attitude and friendliness that truly sets this amazing group apart from the crowd.

The Leadership Weekend Experience is now under way, and I spent most of my morning over at registration in Park Hall. SWAGs helped students register, passed out their notebooks with materials for the week and provided them with a namebadge. They also chatted with them about what they can expect this weekend. I snapped a few photos while milling around registration, and you can find them here.

After registration, it was time for the Leadership Weekend Experience Opening Session in Pruis Hall. All participants attended this session, and they heard from Norm Ruebling, Camp Director of the Music for All Summer Symposium; Eric Martin, Music for All's President and CEO; and the Camp Medical Team. Then Leadership Division Coordinator Fran Kick presented a session that provided helpful tips for the weekend (or week ahead for full week campers).

Music for All recently adopted a new vision, and President and CEO Eric Martin talked about this at the beginning of the Opening Session. Music for All’s vision is to be a catalyst to ensure that every child across America has access and opportunity to participate in active music making in his or her scholastic environment. MFA will use our resources to provide national programs that recognize and support music students' performance and success, offer music educator training and professional development, and deliver tools and resources to participants and their communities that will assist them in supporting music education by promoting awareness of music’s impact on student growth and achievement.

Martin discussed how student campers here at Symposium can help advance Music for All’s mission and vision by simply passing along the message that music education is important and telling their story. Tying in to Leadership Weekend, students can be effective leaders and help by acting as “foot soldiers” for music education by telling others about their own positive, musical experiences.

“I believe in music education. I believe in Music for All. I believe in you,” Martin said to close his speech. Powerful words. If you’re interested in learning more about Music for All’s “I Believe” advocacy awareness campaign, you can read more on our website. And, check out this video in which music educators, student musicians, conductors and composers share why they believe music education is so important.
Fran Kick began his session with the students by discussing the concept of rules versus expectations.

“We need to make sure that one of the expectations, in fact, traditions of Music for All, is an attitude of gratitude,” Kick said.

Kick encouraged students to “thank everyone you see” and tune in and pay attention to the clinicians and faculty they’ll hear throughout the week. He also encouraged students to “pay attention, respond appropriately and be involved in what’s going on.”

These are serious and important lessons, but Kick delivered this message in a way that was fun and engaging for the students, joking here and there and incorporating team-building exercises. He had the students laughing, listening and also paying close attention to these important leadership lessons.

I left thinking about the concept of “actions speaking louder than words.” Kick told a story about students in a college lecture hall. Picture your typical college lecture hall, and then also picture it littered with trash left over from a class. Papers on the floor, empty soda cans, etc. As students attending the next class in the hall file in, most simply take their seats and go about their own personal business. But, one person begins picking up trash in his area and then sits back down. Immediately, others follow suit and do the same, cleaning up near their respective areas. Were any verbal instructions given? No. Actions speak louder than words. A simple, easy gesture from one student led to action from several others. Interesting.

Attitude really is everything, and I was reminded of that as well. As Kick discussed that “you get what you give,” I was reminded of a quote from John Horn that I truly love. “Anyone can be cranky or unkind or mediocre. Being positive and kind and excellent takes a lot more discipline and power."

At times when I’m feeling tired and unwilling to give any more of myself, I try to remind myself of this quote. I’m, admittedly, not perfect and sometimes forget this. But, it’s a quote that has stuck with me, and Kick’s session reminded me of this concept.

Leadership Weekend continues tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!


Music for All still has immediate openings in the Music for All Summer Symposium (June 25-30) for Jazz Band, Concert Band and Orchestra. We have a need for 2 Trumpets in Concert Band, 2 Trombones and a piano in Jazz, and 4 Violins in Orchestra.

Call the MFA Headquarters at 877.643.6043 for Scholarship Information. This is first-come, first-served.

Please join Music for All in supporting CopyCat Music Licensing as they vie for a small business grant in Chase’s Mission: Small Business program. Each business needs at least 250 votes to be considered for a $250,000 grant. Eligible small business applicants will then be judged by a panel of business experts.

Vote today! The program ends June 30, 2012.

CopyCat Music Licensing serves educators, non-profits – including Music for All and Bands of America – and small businesses to provide services and guidance in music licensing and copyright issues.

CopyCat Music Licensing is committed to music education. Helping educators, schools and music ensembles navigate the copyright compliance process is a priority. Through their work, CopyCat Music Licensing helps promote access, creativity and a system that creates and supports a culture of compliance with intellectual property laws. Being awarded one of the 12 Mission: Small Business grants will give CopyCat an opportunity to help advance the creative spirit by helping composers receive “due compensation” and teach and nurture a culture of compliance and respect for the property rights of others, all while providing a needed service for educators and others.

Click here to vote now and to learn more. Login in and search for CopyCat Music Licensing. Note that there is another CopyCat business competing in the program – be sure that you are voting for CopyCat Music Licensing (La Crosse, WI).

Congratulations to Josh Torres, named Center Grove High School's Teacher of the Year. I've personally enjoyed watching Josh's successes and growth as a music educator, percussionist and, recently, as a father. Congratulations, Josh!

Read the story on the Center Grove Community Newsletter:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Towson University Confirmed

Written by

Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium was confirmed today as the venue for the Towson, Maryland Regional Championship on October 27, 2012.

All fall venues have now been confirmed! To view the 2012 full fall schedule, click here.

Today, Music for All published a series of interesting, often moving video stories from the 2012 Music for All National Festival and honor ensembles. During the event, we interviewed members of the honor ensembles and the conductors. Marry those interviews with behind the scenes video from rehearsals and outstanding performance footage and you have a series of compelling stories that really gives you a feel for the experience of these national honor ensembles for high school musicians.

I hope you'll take some time to watch these stories, compiled in the 2012 Festival playlist on our YouTube channel:;feature=plcp

Videos include of the Honor Band of America, Honor Orchestra of America and Jazz Band of America. The playlist also includes a feature on the experience for the invited ensembles, highlights from the string master class with Time for Three's Nick Kendall, the Opening Session video and the banquet keynote address from Mr. Eric L. Martin, President and CEO of Music for All.

I hope you enjoy and share!

Debbie Laferty Asbill, Music for All